Reaping what we sow
Carin, Mani, and I are pleased with our first two harvests. Members began receiving their share of
vegetables and herbs on July 7th. Compared to last season, our first delivery came two weeks later. This was due to a few
factors--like the late killing frosts of May and early June, and the challenges of growing in a new location that hadn't been
cultivated for many years.
We paid a local farmer a large sum of money to plow and disc about three of the 5 acres we are now using.
He also helped sow five kilos of sweet corn seed, which is now growing quite well.
Although we had joined the Cumberland Farmers Market Association as vendors, we feel inclined to delay attending
the venue until such time that we have a large surplus of produce. In this way, we can assure that our CSA members are satisfied
with their fair share of what is currently available. Soon we will see our more popular summer crops like squash, cucumbers,
and tomatoes begin to mature.
We hope everyone is enjoying their food. We certainly love growing it for all of you.
Please be reminded that we are on site at the farm most of the week...away from the luxury of computers
and the Internet. But we are always available through our cellphone if there are any questions, or if you just want to say
hello. The number is 613-866-6264.
And we always extend an open invitation to everyone to come out and see the farm and the gardens...Your
"We get by with a little help from our friends"
Volunteers are always a welcome addition to our farm. Asha (pictured above with the Dude) is the newest
member of Just Food Ottawa. A student of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, Asha has been to the farm twice.
The first visit was for four days, where she made a lasting impression with Carin and I, along with our son Mani. Her solid
work ethic and passion for healthful local foods, she has definitely proven herself in the fields and our hearts.
This past weekend she returned with her mother, younger sister, and two friends from her local young
adults group to help in the gardens. With so many hands, we were able to complete the transplanting and mulching of over 250
squash, watermelon, muskmelon and cucumber plants. Great job and kudos to everyone.
This week we have the pleasure of hosting our friend Marta (another CSA member too). And as no surprise,
Asha will be returning this week too. The blessings never cease to amaze Carin and I.
We hope to see more of you soon, maybe to give a hand harvesting, or just to coem out and enjoy the peace
and tranquility of our summer home on the farm.
See you soon.
"We're off!--like a herd of turtles"
Spring is well underway, but Mother Nature hasn't said goodbye to her friend Jack Frost. We're in
the first week of June, but still we are expecting frosty weather.
The unusual weather patterns have caused quite a disruption in our schedule. This has been a
common story among our farming friends this season.
But as they say, "The show must go on". We have some friends and volunteers coming out during
the next few weeks to help out.
Still, we had hoped to be further along by now. But we have learned through the last few years that
nature cannot be rushed.
So when the crops finally come and our bellies are full with all that fresh food from the gardens,
we will feel better about right now.
We appreciate our members' patience. Soon, we will be bringing you the fruits of our labor. We
look forward to enjoying the fresh produce too.
We have 135 kilos of certified organic seed potatoes to put in the ground by the middle of June-along with
nearly as many onion sets to go in through early July. Anyone interested will be fed a great lunch to say thanks and to talk
about a good hard day's work. Give a call at 613-834-9637 or email (see contact).
BACK ON TRACK
We were amazed to learn that many other growers were suffering from Mother's wrath. Ol' Jack Frost came a calling a few
times more than we care to discuss around the water fountain. Our new greenhouse was downsized to a pair of smaller coldframes.
They work very well, and the winds don't seem to affect them.
Our friends in Quebec lost many onions, and our host Ian Walker lost over 180 tomato plants to dipping evening temperatures...in
May. We lost many pepper and eggplant. But our peas, beans, and loads of seedlings are doing great.
GREENHOUSE COMPLETED !!
With the help of our friends Joe & Marta, we built Valentino's first greenhouse. It was a challenge-- some unexpected
winds blew the top off while we were away. But all is well now. Once the ground dries a bit, we will be busy cultivating and
sowing mountains of seeds.
The new structure measures 32 feet wide by 48 feet long. It will be our seed starting area for a while. Then it will
be converted to grow in-ground heat loving crops like eggplant, peppers, and more. Later in the season, we will use it for
fall greens and other cool weather crops.
Mother Nature blew her winds across the farmlands of Ottawa last week, and destroyed the greenhouse--twice! Well,
not all was lost. The materials were left intact, just twisted a bit. So we listened to the winds, and downsized the building
to a pair of smaller coldframes. So far, Mother is happy, and has left them alone.
As farmers, we have to roll with the puches, brush off the dust, and keep moving forward. It is likely that Mother Nature
has more in store for the season...maybe a plague of pesky insects, or a long dry spell perhaps? No worries...we have learned
to expect the unexpected.
A FAMILY FARM GONE TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Some sad news from our friends in Pennsylvania. Covered Bridge Produce in Oley, Pennsylvania has called it quits. The
5-acre heritage farm will go on the auction block next month after a failed attempt by the owners to make a go at organic
farming and a 600-member CSA.
Carin and I worked there as interns in 2004, when it was a struggling 285-member good food box program. Different from
traditional CSA's, CBP grew over 100 kinds of produce in multiple varieties, and allowed members to order 10 items each
week from the list. It was a nightmare back then for 285 members, and we can only imagine how it was for 600 members.
The end result is a failed farm that will go to the highest bidder. Likely, the neighboring cash crop farmers will absorb
the land and sell off the house to recoup the cost of the total sale.
Carin and I are saddened by this turn of events, and wish Joe and Angel the best. Better luck next time.
NEW WEBSITE FOR GREEN-MINDED PEOPLE
Our friends in Clarence Creek, Ontario have launched a new E-zine website. Greenspill is a place for green-minded people
to share stories, skills, and everything in between. Take a moment to check it out. The address is http://vertdire.greenspill.ca/
OUR NEW HOME & GARDENS IN PLANTAGENET
Ian Walker of Mariposa Farms has opened up a new chapter in Valentino's book of dreams. For two years Carin and I have
worked a small 1/2 acre plot of dairy land. But beginning in April of 2007 we will be moving to an off-grid cabin--free
to create our own oasis on a piece of land untouched for nearly two decades.
The cabin sits inside the south-facing tree line. Two solar panels direct Earth Mother's suitor into a portable charging
station. Four low-voltage lights illuminate the one room chalet. An old oil drum rests upon a stone hearth. The privy sits
alone about 10 paces from the porch.
Compared to the luxury of urban living, it might seem rustic. But there's nothing like stringing a hammock between the
trees on a hot August afternoon.
We will be learning to work a team of draft horses. If freedom from fossil fuels means saying "giddy-up", then I'm all
for it. Besides, horses contribute to the compost pile and make great companions too.
Another addition to our new farm will be laying hens and meat birds--along with goats for meat and milk.
To get an early start this spring, we are constructing a greenhouse. Transplants, will be followed by
in-ground crops like melons. peppers, egplant, and cucumbers. These heat-loving plants will be followed with late season greens
and root crops. Another building will house our laying hens and toolshed.
So the 2007 season is here. Our CSA program has grown from 12 members last season, to nearly 20 for this season.
Finally, we are excited about Cumberland Village's 2nd Annual Farmers Market. Saturday June 23 will be the first of 13
market days--ending September 15.
Hope to see you this season at the gardens or at the market.